This update is provided for archival purposes only.

Public Health guidance and University of Waterloo operations may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit one of the following COVID-19 information pages:

We’re planning for a combined approach for fall term learning

Friday, May 15, 2020

This message was originally sent to students by Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor.


  • All large classes will happen online this fall.
  • Some classes and supports will be available in person.
  • We will support your academic progress, no matter where you are.

It has been nine weeks since the University of Waterloo took steps to move academics online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your continued flexibility, patience and resilience during this unprecedented time.

We know many of you have questions about the fall term. We are committed to delivering the quality learning and student experience you expect from us. While the situation will continue to evolve, we would like to share our current plans for September.

Throughout the pandemic we have delivered the highest quality courses and experiences for you, at a distance. This will continue into fall term.

We have learned from our experience preparing to run the largest spring term in Canada and will invest in further upgrades to distance learning. We will continue to put you in the centre of everything we do:

  • We will be offering a full fall term for every student whether they are new to Waterloo or returning.
  • We will follow the advice and guidance of public health officials, as well as internal and external experts.
  • We hope to enable on-campus experiences and supports for as many students as possible, subject to public health advice.
  • We will support the academic progress of every student who registers, no matter where they are for the fall term.

Large classes will happen online with some in-person classes and supports

We are planning for a combined approach to learning for the fall term and a measured return to in-person learning.

  • Starting September, we will continue to deliver all large courses online although we hope some elements such as clinical programs, labs or tutorials will be available in person. Though the COVID-19 situation may change throughout the term, all large classes will stay online throughout fall term.
  • We are working on a plan for some activity to happen in-person, if the conditions allow. This could mean clinical programs, smaller undergraduate classes or seminars and research-based graduate students working in labs. Any in-person activity will meet strict guidelines for physical distancing and other public health requirements.
  • We will operate on-campus supports and services as conditions allow. This could mean limited access to libraries or computer labs and other learning and personal resources. Timing for when and how we can make our campus available will depend on guidance from public health authorities.
  • We are developing plans to support students, wherever they are. This includes support for students in financial difficulty, people who need health and mental health advice, and people who need academic support.
  • We are working on a plan for a phased approach to restarting our research activities now.
  • We will share more detailed information – including our plans for residences and other activities – when we have it.

Whatever we decide, we will follow direction from all levels of government to ensure we can resume operations safely.

Stay well and stay informed

The uncertainty and change surrounding the pandemic may cause feelings of heightened anxiety and stress. Campus Wellness continues to be here for students – you can find wellness information and other resources to help get you through the term online.

Visit the University’s COVID-19 Information website for the latest COVID-19 updates and news.